ADHD or Sleep Disorder: Are We Getting it Wrong? Written By: Dr. Dhwiti Savani, Edited By: Dr. Ankita Shah, September 2020

ADHD and Sleep Disorder

Mom 1 - "I am so worried about Sam, getting these frequent complaints from school that he doesn't pay attention in class and is always distracted and found sleeping in between classes!" He is always grumpy in the morning and in an irritable mood throughout the day . His behaviour is so unpredictable and his reduced span of attention is making things worse !

Mom 2 - "Isn't this a normal thing for boys his age ? Maybe he is suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (A.D.H.D.)"(A condition marked by problems with concentration, impulse control, organization, and memory. It can be a frustrating and difficult condition, stigmatizing and often isolating for those who suffer from it.)
Well, you will be astonished to know what illusion was framed in your mind? There is actually something else going on here.

Mom 1 - Yes even I thought it could be ADHD. I took him to doctors to understand what is wrong with him. All of them also said it’s ADHD and let’s do therapy for Sam. But I don't really see much improvements, it troubles me to see him suffering and I need to figure out what's wrong with my child so I can help him.

Mom 3 - Have you ever considered maybe Sam isn't suffering from ADHD after all?

Mom 2 - What else could be the reason for Sam’s behavior?

Mom 3 - What if he is suffering from a sleep disorder ? Jake, son had this sleep disorder that could mimick symptoms like ADHD. It could be associated with his disturbed breathing pattern and sleeping and is commonly referred to as sleep disordered breathing(SDB).
Even Jake was misdiagnosed with ADHD, which is quite common given that both the disorders have similar symptoms.
It’s a very unknown and surprising fact that an airway focused pediatric dentist can help correct sleep disorders. You must take him to a pediatric dentist who specialises in sleep dentistry, they can help you identify and resolve your issues.

Mom 1 - Sleep disordered breathing (SDB)! My child could be suffering from this ?
What exactly is SDB and how does it affect my child?

Mom 3 - Sleep disorders often start with mouth breathing that progresses to noisy breathing, snoring and sleep apnea. Often this disturbed breathing prevents the child from going into deeper stages of sleep. It not only disrupts the child’s sleep pattern on a daily basis, but also puts excessive strain on their growth and development.


Mom 2 - How can we identify it?

Mom 3 - Here are some signs to look for in your child.

Observe for restless sleep i.e. tossing and turning in bed

Frequently changes sleep positions

Habitual mouth breathing/ noisy breathing/ snoring

Frequently sitting or sleeping with an open mouth

Frequent Cold and Cough

Frequent Tonsils and Adenoids

Crooked Teeth

Misalignment of jaws

Bruxism i.e. clenching of teeth

Early morning headaches

Day time sleepiness

Lack of attention and concentration




Delayed growth


Moody/ Bullying behavior


⇒ Studies have been done where they took medicated ADHD kids, fixed the sleep disordered breathing, and within 6 months 70% of the children had seen a resolution in symptoms and were no longer medicated.
As in, their ‘ADHD’ was cured. Because it wasn’t ADHD in 70% of children.
Let that sink in.

This means that 70% of those children had been misdiagnosed with ADHD when they actually had a treatable sleep disorder.

A poor quality of sleep affects the normal growth and development of the child. It results in lack of oxygen delivery to the brain which affects the child physically, mentally and socially leading to a poor quality of life.
If you are sleep deprived, taking a stimulant like sugar or caffeine will, of course, help you focus and feel ‘normal.’ But the brain is never fully resting – and hence the side effects which mimic ADHD.

Adults also suffer from Sleep Disorders and may present with different symptoms like:





sleep problems (insomnia),

stomach pain,

loss of appetite,

weight loss/ obesity,


Blood pressure,



Imagine yourself with, let’s say, three days of sleep deprivation. Multiply that times 100. Now throw a stimulant like sugar or caffeine in the mix. How do you think you’ll feel once you start coming down from that? This could be exactly your son's condition.

Mom 1 - How can we treat SDB?

Mom 3 - An airway focused pediatric dentist practising Sleep Dentistry will take a detailed history of your child and help you with Airway Orthodontics, Myofunctional Therapy and Breath Retraining. This helps in achieving nasal breathing, improve the position and function of tongue, expand the upper jaw and advance the lower jaw which helps to open up the airway which in turn will improve Sam’s sleep.

Mom 1 and 2 - This is such an eye opener and thank you sharing this information and guiding us to the right path in order to help our children.

If you are experiencing similar issues with your child please feel free to contact us so we can help your child get a good night’s sleep and solve his/her problems .

Nasal Breathing is the link between mind and body. A healthy breathing can lead to a better sleep and a good quality of life.

Please feel free to ask me any questions. Contact Us

Keywords : attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, adhd, adhd treatment, sleep disorder, mouth breathing, Oral myofunctional Therapy, OMT, sleep dentistry, tongue ties, symptoms of adhd